The trial of Rod Blagojevich will continue on Monday. On Day 14, prosecutors continued the questioning of John Harris, Blago’s ex chief of staff. The largely unreported bombshell was Harris’ testimony that President Obama knew that Governor Blagoevich was plotting to trade the President’s senate seat for a cabinet position:
“The president understands that the governor would be willing to make the appointment of Valerie Jarrett as long as he gets what he’s asked for. . . . The governor gets the Cabinet appointment he’s asked for,” Harris said, explaining a recorded call.
Harris said Blagojevich came away believing Obama knew what he wanted after having a conversation with a local union representative, who in turn spoke with labor leader Tom Balanoff, with whom Blagojevich met to discuss a Jarrett appointment. Jarrett, now a White House adviser, was seeking the appointment to Obama’s Senate seat.
The position of the White House to date is that the President knew nothing about Blago’s attempts to sell the Obama seat. We know the President sent a number of representatives to Blago, including his union buddies Tom Balanoff and Andy Stern. We know that Rahm Emanuel entered into negotiations with Chief of Staff John Harris for the same seat.
Given the recent allegations that this administration tried to bribe Joe Sestak (D-PA) and Andrew Romanoff (D-CO) not to run in their respective primaries to protect Arlen Spector and Michael Bennet, it seems unlikely that the White House is telling us the truth. After all, the sort of horse trading Blago was indicted for seems more like the Chicago way than anything out of the ordinary.
The testimony puts more pressure on Judge Zagel to allow the defense to subpoena President Obama or at least release the interview he gave to the FBI.